Clueless Management? It’s Everywhere!

You’ve got to wonder how people, who are so clueless to even their own industry, get into management positions.


But, come to think of it, actually, you and I don’t have to wonder; someone wondered about it long ago and wrote a book on it in the 1970s. It was all explained in the seminal book, The Peter Principle. That book explained the phenomenon of how, in a hierarchy, everyone rises to their top level of incompetence. Then because they are incompetent, they remain in that position, unable to advance or, because of politics, be demoted.

Wikipedia says:

The Peter Principle is a belief that, in an organization where promotion is based on achievement, success, and merit, that organization’s members will eventually be promoted beyond their level of ability. The principle is commonly phrased, “Employees tend to rise to their level of incompetence.” In more formal parlance, the effect could be stated as: employees tend to be given more authority until they cannot continue to work competently.

Yep. That’s it.

Regular readers of this blog will know that I have railed on incompetent management at broadcasting stations for years. Just to prove that even a broken clock is right twice a day, two and one half years ago I wrote (on July 24, 2010) in One More Phase in the Shattering of Mainstream Media:

I rode the Tokyo subway today and saw a sign inside the car that notified the passengers that as of July 24, 2011, terrestrial television stations will no longer broadcast analogue signals in Japan and will finally make the switch to digital.

This signals the final nail in the coffin of many of the FM radio stations in this country and the collapse of TV Tokyo and TBS.

I predict that *****FM will either be bankrupt or sold to a new owner by 2014 and TV Tokyo will be in the same situation: insolvent or absorbed by another company by 2016.

I picked the first one correctly (polite applause here). The FM station was sold to another company in the summer of 2012. My prediction came true two years ahead of schedule.

I’ve got three more years left on my TV Tokyo prediction and I’m feeling very good about that. Especially since TV Tokyo is unable to payback a $5 billion dollar loan from Mizuho bank they made in Feb. of 2010 and keeps rolling that loan over every year… I wonder how long the rollover will be allowed by Mizuho bank especially since the new Japanese government has publicly stated a policy of 2% inflation which will lead to much higher interest rates.

(TV Tokyo share price was around ¥4,400 at that time. Today, TV Tokyo Holdings shares run at ¥946.)

I haven’t been writing about these stations recently, but last night I had a meeting with management at a broadcasting station that just made my head spin. The boss of the station said to me in an incredulous manner,

“Mike! We have to do something to get people back to listening to the radio… Did you know that Toyota stopped putting radios in cars? Did you know that??”

What planet has this guy been living on? Doesn’t he read at all? Duh!

It was in 2009 that Toyota had publicly announced that they were phasing out analogue radio in the automobiles within three years and that they would no longer be standard equipment in 2012. Taking that obvious clue, I even blogged three years ago that the future of radio lay in the hands of, not the stations, but Toyota. How could a station manager, almost four years later, just be finding this out?

Please refer to: One More Phase in the Shattering of Mainstream Media

The future of FM radio doesn’t lay in what they broadcast or how they up the ante of quality of content (but, of course, it will always be a competition between stations for dwindling audience and sponsorship dollars)…

The future of FM radio depends on what Toyota does.

That’s right. Toyota is the one who decides what is going to happen. In my opinion, it is obvious that FM is is serious trouble and that we are now witnessing the end of an era; and it’s happening, in slow motion, right in front of our eyes.

But, don’t take my word for it, decide for yourself. Let me explain further…

Think about this: Where do most people listen to FM radio? In cars, right?

The Japanese government and all the big manufacturers in this country, Sony, Panasonic, etc. (who, by the way, all have an incestuous relationship with each other and Toyota in stock holdings) are pushing for the digital conversion big time. These manufacturers need their flagging fortunes to get an injection of sales and profits that new broadcasting and new equipment will generate. Digital equipment costs anywhere from $500 – $2,000 (USD) a set. The Japanese manufacturers want and need for the Japanese public to go whole-hog into digital broadcasting. They need the public to dispose of their analogue equipment and buy the new digital equipment… (By the way, a cursory check of analogue equipment at Bic Camera the other day – what little I could find – showed that all the analogue products were all manufactured outside of Japan).

If digital broadcasting is a failure in this country, then it’s going to hurt Japanese manufacturing for a very long time… The analogue equipment I saw was all manufactured in Malaysia, Indonesia, and I found some from Taiwan (which was surprising).

Now, how does Toyota fit into this equation?

Imagine your car dashboard. It has a GPS, CD player, and television/radio set all built together. Most people have an analogue device (with terrible TV reception!) From July 2011 there will be no cars that come with that device. They will all be digital.

After July 2011, on your dashboard, you will have a digital GPS, Internet, digital TV and digital radio. Want to do Social Media, YouTube, Twitter, U-Stream, blog? Got you covered. Need to Google or Yahoo search? Sure. When you need traffic conditions, just a click on your GPS will give you up to the minute details on traffic and road conditions. All the TV channels? No problem. Throw on top of that 6 digital radio channels and, of course, a CD player and probably an iPod connection, and you have the next generation of car entertainment system.

Now where does that leave radio in the equation? Especially when you consider the fact that radio, unlike TV and the Internet, cannot give data on exactly how many users it has and cannot give ratings…

Why does it matter that radio cannot give ratings? Well, because any advertising campaign expenditures from sponsors must be justified at accounting at the sponsor company. How can one justify a radio campaign in Japan when clients cannot be told how many people listen and who is listening? They can, though, get data on viewers for TV and Internet and numbers for print media.

That upper management at a station can be dead serious and tell me in an incredulous tone, in January 2013, that they just found out that the world’s largest car maker stopped making radios for their cars shows just how completely out of touch with reality and what’s going on with people’s lives they are.

Gee, far be it from me to tell people what to do, but I think it is the duty of management to keep apace with the market and conditions. Anything less is gross negligence.

You be the judge! Do you think people like that, who are so unaware of the market – and even their own business merits and demerits – who seem to not read business publications on market trends – can run a successful business?

Of course, if the guilty parties read this, they will probably be angry at me…

I don’t know why. I am doing them a favor….

But, of course, when the king doesn’t like the message, he will not consider where he went wrong, he will just kill the messenger boy…

What was I saying about the Peter Principle?